Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is a delicious fall meal that is ultra creamy, earthy and flavorful. It’s an easy mac and cheese casserole recipe that’s healthy and delicious!
Finding a mac and cheese recipe that pleases both parents and kids can be trying! Kids love that blue box and parents, well we do too but we know we’re much better off with a creamy homemade version that’s healthier and delicious at the same time. This easy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese fits the bill!
My classic mac and cheese recipe is pretty straightforward with an easy cheese sauce poured over the pasta. Throw some pumpkin in for a yummy seasonal update.
To make the cheese sauce, melt some butter and whisk it with some flour to make the roux. Pour in some milk or cream (or a combination of both) and you have a basic bechamel, or white sauce. Now this is where it get fun. Melt your favorite cheeses into the sauce – for this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese we’re using white cheddar and Parmesan cheese, then stir in the pumpkin. Keep in mind this is canned pumpkin puree (affiliate), not pumpkin pie filling. Stir in your pasta and you’ve got a hearty pan of healthy pumpkin mac and cheese!
At this point you can just enjoy your Pumpkin Mac and Cheese as is, or you can take it up a notch and bake it in the oven. I like to pour it in a pan and sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top for a little texture and bake it in the oven. Instructions for both ways are included in the recipe below.
Easy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe:
- 1 16 ounce package large macaroni
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk/heavy cream your choice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 15- ounce can pumpkin puree
- 2 cups freshly shredded white cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley optional
- Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Drain pasta about 1 minute before instructed; just slightly before pasta is al dente. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden in color; about 1-2 minutes. Whisk in thyme and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in milk/cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Do not boil. Simmer until thickened; about 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
- Stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg and pumpkin purée until smooth.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheeses until melted. Stir pasta and cheese sauce together in pan. Serve as is or bake as directed below.
- To bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 11x7-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour pumpkin mac & cheese into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden and cheese is bubbly (Optional: place under the broiler during the last few minutes for more browning, but be sure to watch closely!).
- Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
If you’re loving this pumpkin/pasta combo as much as me, you have to try this Pumpkin Alfredo!
And for more delicious pumpkin recipes, try these:
And for some great mac and cheese variations, try these: